Zoe Chouliara writes with clarity about presence and the significance of it within the supervisory as well as the therapeutic relationship.

This article resonated with Judy as she originally became interested in the significance of presence whilst training to become a supervisor.  The phrase ‘mantle of authority’ was mentioned – a concept Judy found compelling and thought provoking, and over time she’s learned how essential this mantle is in being an effective supervisor.

The significance of authority or authorship (to become aware of and then own one’s internal narrative) is alluded to in this article.  A kinder more compassionate self-talk can emerge as a therapist develops confidence in their skills and abilities.  In Judy’s case, with the passage of time and good supervision, her hyper-critical superego voice softened; only then was she able to don her mantle of authority, which is she believes, a combination of presence and self- belief.

Chouliara explores and expands on the components of presence in the therapeutic relationship and then discusses how a supervisor needs to have a grounded awareness and authenticity to work relationally with a supervisee.  She references research from Geller and Greenberg (2012) who claim to have identified the components of presence.  This research forms the basis for the article and expands and clarifies what presence means in therapy and supervision.  The only disagreement Judy has is she thinks ‘Love’ could have been a more effective title for the section on ‘Spirituality’, as Chouliara is looking to define the extra characteristics of relational depth.  Both concepts are hard to define, but she could have clarified Rogers (1986) description of “a slightly altered state of consciousness” which would link more to spirituality than the comments from Geller and Greenberg’s research that she mentions in this section.  The extra ‘more than the sum of their parts’ factors are subtle, complex and hard to describe but familiar to experience; which is a fair definition of the experience of love.

Click the link below to download the article (PDF).

Being There article – Presence

Reviewed by Judy Hemmons October 2020.